We managed to connect with Dan Magee in January when we thought our video was ready to release. He was bigging up scene videos across the country via his Instagram account and is a verbal fan of our guy Will.
Through major tech issues on our end Dan was more than happy to talk scene videos, what exactly is a full length video and some bits about that lesser-known 2000s brand Blueprint.
Adjective loitering by Fraser Doughty.
Imagery courtesy of our Archive, Leo Sharp and Colin Kennedy.
Hi Dan, we’ve managed to grab you talking all things scene videos. It seems as if you’ve taken to Instagram to promote and back a bunch of UK projects, what’s taken you down this route?
I don’t know, skateboarding can be intense sometimes and so can the video side. We’ll probably get into this, but when I was making the Blueprint video projects it was a case of the video is what sells the boards. Video was the key to our survival. If you made a shit video or everyone doesn’t pull their weight or it's a let down... you're not selling product and you’re most likely going to go bust with a team of a certain size... at least back then.
These days, I don't have that pressure on me, so I’m less of a militant ball breaker when it comes to skate videos, I can enjoy it for what it is. Hence, I’m there’s no need to knock on small videos, let people do their independent thing and I can enjoy these little videos. You don’t have to be so strict with the level of online content and everything doesn't have to be highly polished. I don’t have to sit there and ask ‘Is this of a certain standard for British skateboarding?’ or see everything as a competitor. I can just enjoy it for what it is.
Recently Drug Store's & Danny Jackson stuff makes me realise, “what do these guys get from making a skate video?” They're not getting anything monetarily...literally nothing, Just the actual enjoyment of doing it. They're not going to make money and they’re not really going to sell any more stuff that they would do anyway, besides any money is going back into the scene...into the shop. But yet, they’ve decided to forgo just blasting a load of stuff on instagram and make a full formed video for the shop.
The point is, besides social media & youtube, people are out there doing it anyway...AND making hard copies!
Let’s not forget, there's a LOT to do when making a video.
Do you think that making sales still applies? Do you have to make the best video in order to keep selling products?
No, not at all dude. I mean who sells products? Take Palace for instance, from what I see, they sell a lot, but they are a phenomenon where many, many factors made them very successful.
Beyond The 3rd Wave was a good watch, I mean it's not the most groundbreaking video in terms of skating. Kyle Wilson’s skating stands out, and everyone else has a vibe... but we know that it’s not really the skating that needs to drive their product sales. Their videos are a statement rather than marketing now: “we came from skating, we are still here and we are supporting our skaters”. But as I say, they are in a position to do what they want. Fair play to them they do a lot to support who they brought up. They make a lot of stuff and it still sells, you don't have to make the best video, just an enjoyable video.
We are no longer in the days, where simply having a great team and making a great video equals selling loads of product. I cite ISLE, VASE & Atlantic Drift as an example. They get by, but are not doing those phenom numbers.
I still enjoy watching Supreme videos and I do like watching GX1000 stuff, Yardsale, but I'm trying to think what else I've enjoyed...the Quasi Video but I'm not watching it 500 times. The parts I’ve watched most recently have been the Santi & Nelly Morville parts in the Limosine vid...so that is kind of the level I’m on right now.
Is that due to the amount of content that is out there? Honestly it can sometimes make me feel out of touch...
Yes, totally. It makes me enjoy it less because everything coming out of London feels like the same spots, same dudes, wearing the same clothes, all filmed and edited to the Strobeck formula. Some of it's pretty sick skating-wise, but for light entertainment, I'd rather watch something like Serious Adult edits outside of London or something like that, where it's just homies scouting for some shit spots.
But what is a full-length video any more?
What is the length of a 'full-length' these days?
People say 20 minutes for them. I mean back in the day I would have been 'fuck no!'. You know, 101 videos or Tim and Henry’s were not really considered full lengths. But Video Days & Questionable were.
Palace produced a full-length video over three trips. You know it felt more like an extended edit rather than a full length. So the definition of “full length” basically means it’s not a solo part. Whereas full length to me, means a full project, where there’s thought into how each video part corresponds to and supports the other video parts in the same video.
We'll have to fact check this but Transworld videos always used to say something '35 minutes' on the spine, but then you'd watch them and it would be way shorter they'd be 25 minutes long?
When I was a skate militant I'd say 35 minutes or longer and a full length part would at least be a 2:40 minutes long song.
But Transworld parts were the exception to the rule really as they were shot and edited in 6 months!
Well in a Transword video you had a 10 minute intro which lasted way too long and then you've got video this and then you've got the video and then you've got the credits where everyone thanks jesus haha.
There's still an insane amount of padding in videos now, you get the odd video that’s an hour long, but there might be a ton of slo-mo face shots, but I think that's a different kind of animal.
I used to say 5 to 8 lines and then, 30 to 50 tricks? I mean that was how I gauged it, which is fucking insane looking at it now, to get like 30 to 50 tricks.
A part is a song. That's the way I always viewed it. Is a part truly one song long?
I guess it is like that, I'm trying to think of a band like Guided by Voices whose music is all under two minutes. When the last enjoi video came out, Oververt... it had Cairo footage, that was to a ‘Guided by Voices’ song, I guess he came up short with footage haha. When it started and heard that song start I was straight away thinking 'He hasn't got a full part' haha.
What else is classed as a full video? I guess the Supreme videos are classed as videos but they're extended montages. They are pretty long though... ‘Blessed’ is super long right? I feel like it’s because they are not traditional parts. Then again Supreme videos are the reason why skateboarding switched to this new formula of making videos.
And the new ones are really fucking short as well they’re 20 minutes right? You guys at WELCOME have got to be caerful, you're going to fuck yourself with these questions and answers if your video isnt full-length.
Oh it's gonna be full length. We just booked the date for the premiere.
Yeah I'm down to support and get to the premiere, I'd want to go to everything but I’d have anxiety around Covid, anything like that you'd hope it would be compliant.
Plus I get mad anxious when I’ve been out of skating and you're surrounded by all these young trendy maskless people haha. As I’ve mentioned before...premiere’s are important and it’s amazing that Drugstore did what looked like an epic one in church. Decimal had one where James and the shop owner were tearing up on stage because it meant so much to them.
I was just thinking about banging premiere locations and it’s weird, because someone who's influential and a super influencer is Blondey, right? He had a video premiere for a solo part in Hyde Park, which is insane, but I've never seen him at a video premiere he's not involved in. That’s a shame because everyone coming out to support someone like Jake Harris, Josh Stewart for Static Videos, Massey for Landscape videos were amazing.
Leo Sharp // 2003
You touched on London scene edits, what makes a good scene video to you?
London scene videos...you've kind of already seen it all, you've literally seen it all for decades now. I’m guilty of that too.
I used to be really into all international scene videos. I used to really enjoy the Random Finnish scene video or so people would send me stuff from Australia, which you know back in the day it wasn't uploaded or there wasn't even a fast connection on the internet. It was good to get VHS tapes from people abroad, like ‘Play’ which has a full Dustin Dollin section. It's the best part he's ever had, people might not have seen that part.
There was CTRL out of Finland, Aarto used to ride for that team and they were kind of sick
I also got sent a few of the Finnish skateboard video magazine Captured.
When Karma skateboards first started, Avi (Chris Atherton), made a video for Karma called ‘Shit on the Lens’ and it was the complete opposite stuff I was doing, but I was into his part, for sure. Feels like it was a predecessor to Frog, Fancy Lad type vibe.
What was it about these small companies that could just produce videos?
I guess it was just that a lot of those companies would just do it, you know if there's one person involved who is like “yeah let’s make a video” those companies would get a video because there's one person that's focused on making it. As for Avi ones he's just kicking this board about, it's the opposite of what I was doing and he was like making it with a shit video camera... but all out of necessity, not because he was trying to go for a certain vibe.... But because all he had was a shit video camera.
But that's really interesting when we discuss scene videos. It's not easy to make one, the Danny J. and Drugstore made one, James Harris and Decimal made one and now you guys have one on the way with Hallett.
That's hard to do. Just the process of making them.
The real testament to the people that made full lengths in the past for no money, is that now there's a lot there's a lot of UK skateboard skate companies have been about for years now and have never managed to make a video that showcases their team.
They’ve never brought out a video, all they are doing are heat transferring onto blank boards and that's fucking weird to me, you know.. To bother having a company and not do that, when they could be fully immersed in that whole process of showcasing the team, supporting the skaters, and then from that perspective backing up the scenes.
'Lost and Found'to me, I feel that was more of that actually kind of felt like those more a scene video than a brand's skate video.. Because it was meant to reflect all the different parts of the country. First Broadcast is supposed to be like a London kind of scene video, because a lot of countries weren’t really that aware of who was in the London scene... it’s a scene vid but everyone's sponsored!
But then 'Lost and Found' was kind of interesting because everyone was from a completely different background, the most diverse group of skaters that were probably living in their home scenes at the time... as opposed to everyone now "I just live in London '' like literally everyone is ‘from London’, you know?
But, yeah...'Lost and Found' I feel was still a supporting scene in that way. For example, Colin (Kennedy) was in Scotland, skating in Scotland and it made sense for people wanting to head up there and see what's available. We tried to connect the dots.
You'd see the boards in the shop and you'd probably see that in the shop and see them riding.
The same goes for Baines in Sheffield, obviously they had a great scene, but he's in this video with all these other people from across the UK. Hopefully people in the States would watch that video and be like 'Ah is that spot in Scotland?' or 'Where's Hull?'
Is that how you see a video like 'Lavengro'?
I mean Norwich doesn't look like the best place to skate and someone's gonna get offended by that, but I'm not saying it in a derogatory way.
A scene video can make a place more appealing to me, so in your head, you’d think ‘how have they made this many videos in Norwich?’.
I, for one, I'm sitting here thinking, look how good Danny & crew is making these spots look.
When Josh made the Etnies 'Turkey' one, I remember watching Turkey and thinking at the time he's actually gone out and he's done this basically off his own back. I even asked if he got money and it seems that he did it with virtually nothing.
There's not that many videos like that, where someone's gone on a mission to do that for a brand to support their mates.
Especially as you know there's no budget for these videos.
Thats a thing for me now at the age of 46 I've kind of stupidly realised which is you know not actually stupid because I’ve got lucky with it later in life... . You know, the people I've met, where this skate filming game has led to...
But yeah, even with all the Blueprint videos, we had a van and we were given a petrol card, but aside from that that was like no other budget.
Camera equipment I buy myself, all the trips I paid for my own flights and accommodation, except for the one Majorca trip a year. That was it pretty much unless it was a Blueprint tour. Where we'd tour the UK and do demos.
We did trips, but I was on my own dime for most of it, all paid from my Blueprint salary which was by no means big money. We were on a zero expenses flex.
When we went to China I could remember thatI had to pay for my own travel costs and I paid for both mine and Kevin Coakley's accommodation out of my own salary.
Looking back, in my head I thought we'll make this company progress and blah blah blah. But unless you're one of these phenomenon companies you're never gonna make that much money. I remember when Josh Stewart was paying for all of Static out of his savings, at that point I guess it’s good to recognise that you might as well just do them for yourself. Going back to Josh Hallet making Turkey, it’s almost as if he should have just done it off his own back, rather than for a brand if they are not paying that much. Perhaps the feeling of accomplishment would have been a bit harder hitting.
I'm really looking forward to what Hallett puts out next, I'm looking forward to seeing Will Sheerin’s part.
James Harris hit me up on Instagram because he was asking for some feedback on the Decimal vid . It's pretty sick that he's gone out as well on his own time, especially with a child & family.. There's a Margate one coming out 'Koast' I’ll check out, I'm really into the coastal town stuff at the moment. . The Orwellian World Landscape stuff by Al Hodgson too has got me vibing now. Anything out of Scotland. Dalraida, Garden stuff. JJ Jabbar Habibis stuff... I’ll watch all that for sure.
What's also nice about Garden Skateboards. Is that it feels like you are watching a scene video because it's kind of a small company.
Still, the single best scene video of all time is 'Hmin'Bam'. Jamie Bolland has the best part, where somehow he does nothing. Hmin Bam is like a reference bible for scene videos. A tonne of the shittest spots and a bunch of homies getting upto what they get up to. Al Hodgson’s stuff is like that too, it's kind of ‘make-do’ spots it’s pretty rad.
Are there any scenes or stores you would have liked to have seen more of? Is anyone blowing it?
Not blowing it... but Lost Art should have made a vid ages ago, but Mackey's got a lot going on. Back in the day I was fully up for doing it, but I don't know how that would have ever worked! Someone should make a LA video because it's got the best shop team hasn't it?
I’ve always felt Slam should do a new one that reflects the identity of the shop. But then again it's a bit lost on me what the actual identity of Slam is these days. Perhaps all the more reason for making a video and really rebuilding a team from scratch. I say this, because I just remember what profound impact all the FTC videos had on my and for that shop.
Slam is one of the oldest and most well known of store names, but a lot of that is legacy.
Obviously we tried to do something back in 2008, when I was involved, with the Skate Rats promo and then Hold Tight took the reins on a full video for City of Rats, but City of Rats feels very much like a Hold Tight London video, rather than a Slam City Skates video to me.
Henry was spot on with the process he tried to make that video through... get a flat in central London and get out every day. It just didn’t translate as “Slam City Skates” though... a strange disconnect considering the place was a 10 mins skate away from the shop.
A video to hit on what they are in 2022 home would be really nice. They've got the hashtag #slamshopteam but it's like a bunch of other people's footage so it's basically a repost account. But they do look like they are rebuilding a good current team and have a new brand manager that wants to shake stuff up. Get one done! Imagine if Sirus did it.
Fifty Fifty already made the best shop videos for Bristol. I think they can still afford to rest on their Laurels.
Do we consider Blokes a scene vid?
Blokes? I like Blokes, I'd go as far to say I love Blokes, haha.
A few people were like 'You're into this?' and yeah I am, it's completely different isn't it? It will go beyond that now, simply with the production money they've been raising and Ed Hubert, who does it, is a DoP so he's got the connection stuff.
I think it will transcend what they've done before and what we're talking about for sure. They made their own original thing and that’s important, I'm there for it... but also scared of it.
And yeah it’s a scene vid. Look at Blokesfest at Stockwell.
As the go-to filmer where do you think the line crosses into TMing?
I've always kind of looked at it as the same thing. You do get a lot of filmers, a typical filmer used to be a version of me, a fat filmer who can't really fucking skate that well, you become a dude that films because they are not as good as everyone else. Although today’s filmer needs to actually rip. (see Jake Harris).
I'll always remember at Blueprint Alvin said to 'maybe shouldn't you shouldn't ride for the team' for little bit I was like 'I don't want to lose my motivation blah blah blah , then I came to realise I was like 'fuck shouldn't actually be sponsored' that was big eye opener for me.
It became ‘I shouldn't be sponsored and in turn now I'm going to be a filmmaker and a TM’ also ‘I'm going to be quite gnarly in how I approach this as a way of compensation for me for being so shit and sponsored... It was a combination of vicariously living through the skaters on the team, pushing them was self-flagellation on my part to get the best out of certain dudes, to make up for me being so shit at skateboarding.
So there was never any temptation to turn yourself pro at any point?
Fuck no dude! I never even took the product. I felt bad as I didn't deserve it. No-Foso.
I never asked for product that I made which is stupid, hence I barely have any old boards. I don't have any shit anymore because I would just feel bad, it was close to imposter syndrome kind of thing. I think back on it like a kid in bed squirming over something embarrassing and I'll be awake at night remembering tricks I did etc...just thinking 'Oh fuck, why did I do that'.
So, other than not keeping anything, did you make any other TMing mistakes?
So many mistakes. My thing was always ‘Don’t be a filmer that just pushes the red button because what the fucks the point. Try to be part filmer, part TM or just a little bit of a director with it.
When we're making a part, instead of literally pressing the button filming, I was always trying to direct the situation a bit. Show skaters other people’s footage, suggest the tricks, manipulate the edit, etc.
When we used to do big Majorca trips and stuff I just filmed for 10 days and every night went back to the house... There was nothing to do obviously, there's no internet back then and I'd just make up these timelines for all the footage... we’d just crowd round and watch that at night in the villa. Everyone was a little stoned or faded and had a belly full of Shier’s Spag Bol.... watching all the footage we’d got so far on the trip.
Whoever's on the trip will get hyped, see the footage and go out to try to fucking top it. That's the filming to TMing side, pushing people. Pushing people’s buttons, not just the VX.
Actual Management and logistics side, Mark Harmon at Faze, would basically be like a TM and sort out the boxes and all that stuff, which is amazing. Mark is like the unsung 5th Beatle of Blueprint. He did so much for the team and never got any credit for it.
Then we'd have other filmers that would be good at wrangling the troops, like Ches - Neil Chester was the best at it, other ones needed a bit of wrangling themselves.
I think the way of talking about it, was it more than one person's job?
Yeah, it was a team effort. Mark at Faze was sorting out packages but putting people on might be a group discussion. But, I mean, the only fuck up in terms of TMing has been, Nordberg really. Just because people caught on how he was in the beginning and were saying ‘What the fuck, why are you putting this dude on?’ At first I was definitely like “no, no, I reckon it will be cool, he’ll bring something new…'' but it turned out everyone was right. He just got everything too early and was really spoiled, I should’ve just listened to what other people said.
Then, as it got sold to Canadians, there were people that got put on that wasn't really my decision, you know, I mean, it was more like…stress. We were getting forced to put on Americans and I did like Marty (Muraski), but like, he probably wouldn't really have been a fit for Blueprint back in the early days. It was more a case of Marty's potential, he could be pretty sick. The Canadians were going to put on fucking Jordan Hoffart if we didn't put on an American rider. So it was like let's get someone before they do that. Kevin Coakley was my pick originally, and I've said this before but I really wanted Jack Sabback.
Jack Sabback is a good choice!
Nordberg is definitely a regret because he didn't appreciate being asked.
I think you had to appreciate it as well. Back in the day we had Grove, I don't think he really appreciated being asked to ride for Blueprint, or maybe he did at first, but then he just realised he wasn't at the top of the food chain. Or, you know, he wasn't like a gnarliest dude but I saw him as a really good fit for the team. I think Grove really brought something to the table ... you have to be able to do that to be on a team with so many good skaters.
Colin & Dan
You mean you want something different from every team rider?
Exactly. ‘Why have you got like Smithy?’ ‘Who?’ ‘Kind of not having an amazing style?’. Look...Neil Smith is a really good representation of a British small town or village skater, an Essex rat, you know, just some kid that would normally just be down the shops or skatepark hanging out kind of thing, but he's killing it.
I guess Mikey Wright was also coming with the vibe that you have to have a child prodigy, but he bought something a little bit different to the table, he was ahead of the game.
Grove was the demo killer and he was hungry for it, he would go on a trip he would just fucking kill it.
I can’t remember anyone ever getting kicked off, I remember Grove quitting early to get paid by Unabomber apart from Rattray leaving obviously.
‘Blueprint forever’ on the Rattray 411 bit, so good. Whose job do you think it is to manage expectations of a brand and its rider? Should the team manager be a conduit for a brand or to look after the riders first and foremost.
From a Blueprint perspective there was nothing in terms of an earnings perspective, it was carte blanche for us. We had freedom. If we were going to make a video we were going to make a video and that was that.
The main thing with Joe Burlo at Faze, who was the owner of Blueprint, was that everyone was paid on time…There was never a time when under Joe Burlo, that anybody who had a pro board didn’t get paid on time.
Aside from that and backpage adverts in Sidewalk there was no ‘budget’ for marketing or a video, it was almost like how we did Cover Version, it just got paid out of our salaries.
For Blueprint trips... Nike SB would pay to send certain people on trips and they didn’t even want anything from us, but obviously that was before skaters and brands were so content driven. If it wasn’t for people like Seb and Sam funding people’s travel most of 'Lost and Found' wouldn’t have gotten made.
In terms of managing teams I think we got 13 people on at one stage, so someone needs to wrangle all of them to make a consistent team and video.
How some skaters approach this is often ‘‘my mates are going to just film me and send you the footage’.... But I don’t really play that game. A lot of the time it looks like a random part stuck in.
A good/bad example of this is Frank Stephen’s footage in the Cliche’ video, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
The most important part to the team managing is getting everyone out there together filming. They will push each other. In the Blueprint days, there weren’t many nightmares to get people out, except Chewy really, he didn't really have any income and he lived in the middle of nowhere. You had to get him in the right place to skate and if he had weed, generally he was skating. It was just wrangling...how to get skaters to come down from Norfolk, Scotland, Blackpool or whatever for a set amount of days. They knew they were working on something and they were going to try and take it to the next level. If you know where people should skate and what spots will be good for them, in the end you don’t even have to manage them.
I know you’ve been out of the skate game for a while but is filming ‘full-lengths’ videos harder now that anyone can go out and ‘get clips’ on their phone with their mates? Are team managers necessary?
It depends on what level you're talking about, you know, if you’ve got a big team with all these different people. Big budget teams need the team managers but it's a different vibe because people get jaded more quickly. There’s a lot of kids who have been in the spotlight from a really, really young age. Getting money, product and fame earlier isn’t always a good thing.
If you're talking on the UK level, it looks to me that Palace just let their team do what they want. The team goes and films with their friends, they skate and do what they want. You know they’re killing it and getting their shit done so they just leave them to it. At least the new generation of guys, like Kyle and Birch do.
I know we've already touched on Palace but outside of them is there anyone on a level that you could compare to a big UK brand like Blueprint was?
Palace did stumble on a formula that was almost all organic. They are on a different level and you can’t really compare it to Blueprint, especially given the history. I don’t think you can really compare anything to Blueprint, because we had to do it from scratch.
Something like Isle is/was good, Vase is amazing, Nick doing the art direction and Jake filming his friends was natural & organic. Now that Atlantic Drift is happening, they’ve got all their friends and this small window to get something made, it’s just like how ‘Lost and Found’ worked.
I’d like to see if The National video could make a full length, now their team is changing.
I know I sound very ‘OK GEN X’ about all this stuff and in reality none of it matters at all, I'm just seeing it from my perspective of knowing how much work we used to put in. That’s why I respect the people doing it, ‘the graft’ of it and doing it without budgets. Especially those that aren’t out for the quick instagram or youtube glory... even though that’s a more sensible way to go now.
Well you have incredible small brands such as Garden who are putting together solid products whether that's clothing or hardware but they are also producing content consistently, isn't that what matters?
I like Garden as a small company, but obviously in terms of the level of skating, It's something that people outside the UK might not take note of. It's all there product wise and they are all good skaters, but it's good skating at a scene level. Again it’s not as if any of that matters anymore does it?
Again, there’s a lot of stuff my GEN-Xer mind just doesn’t get and I’m trying to break out of that. I feel like Blueprint had a two video part rule for people to turn pro. There’s brands that have been around forever that haven’t put out anything, take Karma Skateboards, I saw they recently turned about 80 people pro on Instagram right? Haha, but then again maybe I’m wrong, because they are turning local heroes pro and maybe that inspires the scene? I can see the other side of it though when a company like that turns you pro and you might be seen as not really pro and it hinders you getting better sponsors. Again, all the rules are out the window so what does it matter anymore?
Cover Version which you made alongside Kevin Parrot had the best skateboarders in the UK putting together solid parts. They all had their respected sponsors anyway, you all put that together, which was pretty ‘big’.
Harry Lintell is an actual Pro now and probably deserved it 3 parts ago. Look at Charlie Munro, he’s actually put out some sick parts now, he’s obviously so good, constantly getting solid coverage. Still AM.
Everyone is good these days though right?
Are they though? Yeah kind of...is anyone left in London that has to pay for product?
You think about Charlie, he's AM and just about on the radar with Primitive. But, at the same time there’s a slew of UK random pros, it’s mind-blowing to my Gen-X brain.
Harry Lintell only just turned pro and for Real, that is the mark of graft.
Kyle Wilson and Charlie Birch are the other two pros that deserve it from the UK, if you play by the old rules.
If you could put together a UK super team e.g. DC EURO SUPER TOUR 1997 who would be on it?
That’s difficult, you couldn't just put Kyle Wilson on the same team as Tom Knox. People fit in certain ways... bad things can happen.... Wenning to Plan B...
But, this is a fantasy football for skateboarding, you can pick anyone…
It wouldn’t work out, there’s more nuance to creating a team of skateboarders. There's normally a reason why the super team exists and that's in a full length video. A part might react well to another part, I like to treat them like albums. A song that doesn’t really stand alone but it starts making sense on the next song and so on and so forth. That’s what was rad about companies back in the day, there was always the ‘Why is that person on?’, then you waited a year or two, the part would drop amongst other parts and you’d learn why. For example,in the Quasi team, a skater like Dane Barker makes more sense surrounded by the other team members rather than a standalone video part in that context. The same goes for Justin Henry.
I like the way that guy skates and on the topic of Henrys, Dustin Henry is great too.
For a UK super team it has been nailed, Atlantic Drift nailed it. The same goes for Palace, you’ve got the three rippers which will be the generation to come, aforementioned Charlie and Kyle as well as Heitor. But maybe Heitor without the over-egging on the steeze and looking back stuff haha, his older stuff is amazing, that said I’m still into him now, I can take the over steeze as my guilty pleasure... he’s one of the few that can pull it off.
I’d have Sam Murgatroyd. He's one of my favourite guys, but he shouldn’t be sponsored for his own sanity alongside Zach Riley. To me, Super teams should shop teams really, it seems as if they all get along is the vibe you really want. Super Locality Team.
Maybe you should turn Welcome into a board brand?
I mean that’s the whole point of us talking about scene videos. Welcome, Drug Store and other shops out there seem to be doing more than the companies they stock and some of the other options that we've got at the moment. So maybe it's not so unreasonable that I could say ‘do a board company’ because they're actually already doing the work you’d expect from a big brand. It could be kind of rad if you all did it.
Yeah, that's great, that's a great reflection of the entire conversation. Last question, we’ve been asking everyone this for a laugh, who’s your UK SOTY?
Tom Knox just for the work he puts in. Tom because it's talent and graft, he’s skating, caring for his children and is somehow filming part after part, better than a skater with no responsibilities.
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Verb Excretion by Fraser Doughty
All Images Provided By Chris
What came first, the skater or the skate shop?
I'm a firm believer that all the best ideas, designs, styles always originate with skateboarders. Skaters are first to everything.
What's your earliest memory of a skate shop?
In New Jersey in the late 80's we didn't have skates hops that were strictly dedicated to skateboarding. It was always a baseball card or comic book or fishing and gun shop with some skateboards in the back. I grew up loving comic books and when I knew 'skateboarding was everything' that was the day I walked into the comic book store that sold some skateboards and I traded in my four Frank Miller Wolvierines for a brand new Shut Shark. That was the day the deal was sealed and yet that's not my earliest meaningful skate shop memory. That came later, when I visited Ollie Pops in Howell, NJ owned by Bob Losito, who now owns Pro Skateshop in Belmar, NJ. I walked in there for the first time looking for the guns or frisbees or fishing poles and didn't see any of that shit. I only saw skateboards and skateboard related clothes and shoes. I saw a place built just for skateboarders. It was magical.
We knew that when we opened our own shop, NJ Skateshop, in 2003 we wanted to be like Bob: SKATEBOARDS ONLY. I think any skater that walks into a skater owned skate shop made for skaters, by skaters they feel a unique sense of belonging the moment they walk through the door.
If someone told you they wanted to start a skate shop what would be your number one piece of advice?
I'd say find 30 minutes, grab a pen and paper and give me a call. If we're in close proximity, come over and bring wine. Red, if it's cold outside. White otherwise. I'll tell you whatever you need to know to at least get out of the gates, just like Tim and Malcolm of the now defunct but forever legendary PIT CREW skate shop did for me and my partner Steve Lenardo nearly 20 years ago. They helped us dodge a tonne of bullets and so we always pay their kindness forward. Each one teaches another.
How many times did people tell you it was a bad idea to open up a skate shop?
Actually none because in 2003 we were selling your sister's jeans hand over fist! There weren't enough sisters to keep up with the demand! Skateboarding was massive then. On the flip side, I have had to tell quite a few people over the years that opening a shop was a bad idea for various reasons (timing, dip in economy, bad name selection, wrong intentions, etc.). But even if someone had told us it was a bad idea we wouldn't have listened. Just as no one should listen to me. Skaters learn best by falling repeatedly.
What more could skate shops do to support one another?
Skate shops make the best shit, hands down and if the 'limited edition' thing is your jam there's nothing more limited than a shop shirt. I always try and grab shop shirts wherever I go as my tourist tee. I'd much rather rock a Welcome Skate Store shirt done by OUR artist, Fos, than a t-shirt from the Royal Armouries Museum done by any of THEIR artists. So I'd say the simplest ways to support shops are to buy something and even if you can't afford to buy something but you dig another shop's designs, repost it in your Instagram stories and let that shop know you dig it. Like I said, skate shops make the best shit so when one of our peers in the shop keepers union says they like our work it hits different.
Is there a ‘distance rule’ between one shop and another, do you think it’s worth two independents inhabiting the same scene?
Shit, I think everyone should have the same opportunity to fulfil their dreams and the local skate scene will decide if two or more shops can be sustained. I've seen towns with massive skate scenes where three shops weren't even enough; I've been to tiny scenes where one shop was too many, haha. My question is always, "What are you doing for your community, your scene?" because if every shop owner is contributing and cultivating a healthy skate scene, and that's what everyone should be doing, then more people doing good should not be a bad thing, right?
As skateboarding has changed how have you seen shops develop with the social-zeitgeist?
I am so blown away and in awe of almost all of my shop owning peers' ability to dig their heels in and really embrace digital commerce. Would they all prefer to have skaters walk through the front door and come hang and chop it up and talk skateboarding? For sure. But we live in an ever changing world and some people just prefer to shop from the comfort of their homes, in their underwear while listening to Gang of Four. Sprinkle a little covid on the situation and you can't expect anyone to want to leave the house or even be allowed to. The fact that I heard of very few shops closing down during the apocalypse thanks to their ability to pivot and lean into their online sales is a testament to the fact that skateboarding will always endure.
How does a skate shop legitimise itself? Should a store have a front or backdoor, are non-retail space stores supported on Skate Shop Day?
I'll just repeat what we've written on the skate shop day site: "A Skate Shop Day participating store is defined as a skater owned and operated retailer whose main primary business focuses on full time, physical store locations, with an always on deep rooted commitment to skateboarding, and whose company is independently owned, and not publicly traded. (In other words, we’re dealing with real, live, physical, indie skate shops – not online retailers or corporate behemoths)."
Most importantly for me, always, is what each shop does for their community. Let's be honest, love is not always unconditional but like Paul said, the love you take is equal to the love you make. If you show your community love you will be shown love in return. So if you think your skate shop is solely a transactional place for commerce you might want to rethink the line of business you're in.
Whilst people have said “retail is dead” skate shops continue to thrive and startup, how have they done it?
HA! "Punk is dead, you're next!" I always loved that line. The only time people say something is dead, aside from, you know, when something literally dies, is when they've left the party and they're lonely. Yes, traditional retail is shifting. People want what they ordered delivered even before they thought to order it. I'm sure Jeff Bezos has already hired an army of psychics to get ahead of that. But skateboarding and skateshops truly offer something that no other industry's retail stores offer: community. You think the hardware store chain is going to bail you out of jail or put you in rehab or lend you a car to get to work because your truck took a shit? No one, in any other field, does that shit. I've talked to cats in other industries; they think we're all crazy. And yet, you can see in their eyes that the words are so foreign and magical that they are envious of not having such a community in their life.
So long answer long, as long as skate shop owners continue to look out for their fellow skaters they will remain an indestructible institution in the hearts and minds of everyone who walks through their doors.
What do we say to the ‘Skate Shop Day is everyday’ crowd?
We say, "You're right! You know what's up and we agree!" We all, as a collective community, should be supporting skate shops every day because they support us every day. But the truth is not everyone has been indoctrinated to think that way and some cats might not skate as much as they used to and their shop visits may be less frequent than in their younger days and so skate shop day serves as a call to action for every skater around the globe to show their local shop some love. And love comes in many forms, right? It can be with a purchase of a shop shirt or it can be bringing the homies a cup of coffee or a sixer or it can be a heartfelt hug or handshake accompanied by words professing how much your local shop keeper means to you. We often forget to tell people what they mean to us and we all should be doing more of that to keep spirits high every day.
As a skate store the plethora of products tends to make you lose sight of what brand is which and what are they trying to achieve within skateboarding. The humble amount of publications we’ve began to amass makes me think otherwise, local publishers Red Fez put out Jono Coote’s travel diary, Karl Watson’s second children’s book sits by Thrasher and Lauren Mudge’s Rolling With The Girl’s zine takes a space next to the super popular ‘Disposable’. Print certainly isn't dead and the makers are publishing what they love.
Diving into the mix of published works by skateboarders in the shop is Mat Lloyd’s ‘What You Missed’ a poetry book which spans self-doubt, skateboarding and forgiving yourself for regrets. Our normal routine of talking Vans quick-strikes and Half Cabs was flipped onto the 'why poetry' conversation which you can read below.
A big thanks to Mat for not only speaking so openly about his work but for also sending me a copy to interrogate.
Who are you, Mat Lloyd the poet? The skateboarder? Or more Mat who skates and does poetry. Is there any part of you that identifies with one more than the other?
Wow, I’ve never been asked that before and I need to take a minute to think. I’m neither more of one than the other, both occupy my mind in equal measures. I grew up skating and writing both from quite an early age so they’ve both always been part of my being in a sense. I think of myself, not as someone who skateboards but as someone who is a skateboarder and that’s the same way as the poetry side, I am a poet.
What’s the deal with Poetry culture? Do you all treat it like a skate session with stanza’s instead of slash grinds?
Hahaha like anything there’s lots of different types of poetry and spoken word out there. Lots of different; gathering, groups, cliques, open mic nights, slams and showcases. In many ways, just like the crew I skate with there are a number of poets out there who I have known for years who I hold in high regard as friends.
When did you first discover poetry, from your previous work, it seems as if your affinity for Hip-Hop would come into it?
Yeah, definitely heavily influenced by hip hop, but that’s not to say I’m a rapper. I got into NWA when I was eleven or twelve then KRS-One & BDP, Ice-T, Public Enemy, Cube, Cypress Hill and the deeper I got into Hip-Hop the more interested I got in the art of writing rhymes. Hip-Hop talked about things and people I’d never heard of and opened my eyes to other music genres, leading me to discovering artists like Gil Scott Heron whose music and poetry blew my tiny young mind.
Can we talk What You Missed, what led you to choosing this as your titular work?
Over the years I’ve been on and off the poetry/spoken word scene for a long time, and got to share the stage with some incredible artists along the way. For many years I’ve worked with numerous publishers doing gigs supporting other artists, donating my work to books and anthologies but when it came to putting out my own work I could never seem to get it over the line. For years it was like they liked me performing in front of a crowd at a show or festival but never fully had my back. People would always ask if I had a book to sell and well I didn’t. So back in 2008/2009 I put my own book together ‘Demo Tape’ and started selling it at gigs. It felt great and taught me a lot about the changing landscape and gatekeepers in publishing.
When Carl Mynott the head of Stour Valley Publishing reached out and we finally had a chat (over zoom), he just seemed like a nice person and that goes a long way. We mulled over ideas and I thought a sort of ‘best of’ would be a great idea and Carl agreed. The title ‘What You Missed’ is sort of a tongue in cheek way of saying ‘You have no idea who I am but I’ve been around a long time and that’s OK’.
Could you talk us through a piece that's inside the book?
My favourite piece in the book is ‘No Regrets’ as it’s a poem that helped me drag myself out of a long period of self-doubt and also a kind of ‘I’m sorry letter’ to my mum for being such a fucking pain in the arse! It always goes down well in front of a crowd and people like to talk to me about their own experiences. It’s basically a piece about all the dumb shit that I’ve done and continue to do in my life that wakes me up in a cold sweat at 3am. It's about the acceptance that it’s happened, all you can do is learn from it and move on.
Skateboarders have a personality trait that leans them towards headache inducing perfectionism, does this process apply to any of your written work? I can imagine you re-re-reading then re-re-editing lines until it feels right.
Ooooh yes, but I am lucky, I have a very understanding and honest partner who listens to many of my first drafts, I’ve also got a few mates I can call on if I need an honest opinion. I remember being asked to write a piece about ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ for a VANS x Tribe launch a few years back and I really was falling apart so I rang Nick Grove (now head of Dickies) and read it down the phone to him! He loved it and that helped me finish the piece in time for the launch. You’ve met Nick right, if he thought it was garbage he would have said as much and not held back!
From the cover of your new book the design invokes some seriousness to the body of work but within it ‘design wise’ you’ve taken a lot of ideas one would tend to find with zine culture, was it a conscious effort to keep things flowing differently than published poetry books?
It all stems from a conversation I had for the first episode of my podcast ‘The Skateboarder And…’ back in 2015ish with Ben Gore who’s a skater, photographer and artist who talked about putting on his own shows and creating zines. Around the same time I’d been asked to write a piece for a video project called ‘A Guide to Cracks and Curbs: London’ which would go on to feature; Sam Murgatroyd, Helena Long, Charlie Radford, and Amy Ram. I was coming out of another long period of self-doubt and anxiety about my work and writing about skateboarding for me is like writing a love poem, that shits hard (which is why I don’t write love poems). The final video was beautiful and got me hyped on writing and performing again. My newly rekindled passion and the conversations with Ben inspired me to put together a poetry collection called ‘The Cracks and Curbs EP’ that was designed to look and feel like a skate zine but was actually a poetry book in disguise. It even came in a sealed baggie with stickers.
When I put it up for sale the response blew me away, I’d made my money back on the first day of release and by the second day I’d sold all the first run, 200 copies. It’s no mean feat to put your work out there, it’s really scary, ‘will people like it’ and ‘will they buy it?’ but it was the best thing I’ve done for myself as an artist. To date I’ve put out quite a few and as my books got out there, other poets, artists & creatives (many of whom do skate) reached out to share work or just chat about the process and one of them was skater and poet Tony Wood who’d recently been published via Stour Valley Publishing. Tony reached out to me and it turns out Carl Mynott the Boss at SVP was a fan.
Carl and I eventually linked up over zoom, as you do and like I said, he was into the idea of a sort of ‘Best Of’. I wanted the book to be a reflection of my work past and present and I think it reflects that. I do think the inclusion of artwork and its look and feel make it stand out from traditional poetry books. It’s a thing of beauty.. but I’m biased.
Was there a poem that spoke to you and made you want to do it? Did you find yourself imitating any particular work before you found a voice?
Probably the moment I heard ‘The Revolution will not be Televised’ by Gil Scott Heron which was originally written as a spoken word piece. Listening to hip hop had led me to Gil and hearing that tune for the first time made me really think about what I was writing. Until then I was writing simple rhymes imitating the rappers I was currently listening to and after listening to Gil I began writing more about my own experiences.
Years and years later when I began performing on stage I remember listening to a lot of other poets and feeling like ‘damn they all have a certain style’ and mine seemed to be all over the place. I remember emailing the poet Ray Hollingsworth who used to put his email address as the back of his books and asking him what I needed to do. He wrote back and basically told me not to change, to let a poem come out as it wants to, don’t force it. I am forever grateful for that email.
Are there any other established poets in your scene who skate? I can imagine there being a crazy eclectic mix of wordsmiths.
Oooh mate there’s loads you only have to pick up a copy of Sara Prinsloo’s amazing ‘It’s Okay Zine’ or Claire Alleaume’s ‘Two Set Mag’ to find lots of awesome skaters who are also poets from around the world. Racking my brain right now there’s UK legend Olly Todd, Tony Wood, Alex Vellis, even Mike Vallely and the Gonz have had a poetry book or two out. It always amazes me how many diverse talents we have as part of our culture.
Whilst I’ve got you do you have any book recommendations?
If we are talking just poetry books, anything Benjamin Zephania, Saul Williams, John Cooper Clarke or Bukowski have put out! I’m a huge fan of Thom Gunn too, mate there’s so much out there, also check out Kirsty Allisons ‘Now is Now’, Chip Hamer’s ‘A Class Act’, Samantha King Holmes ‘Don’t Tell Me Not to Ask Why’ and Tony Woods ‘Coping Mechanism’ (I wrote the intro for that one). If you’re totally new to poetry, maybe start with a newish anthology featuring loads of different poets and work out what you’re into. Also there’s this bloke called Mat Lloyd, he’s got a book out, I heard it’s pretty good…..
Images provided by Mat with credit
The RWTB Flatground Entertainment CEO Dave Tyson Interview
Who are you? What are you doing here?
I'm David Tyson. ‘Nice to meet you. I'm an artist. My name is psycho.’ Yeah, trying to draw some shit.
I'm loving this new oval world that you live in. It's not as simple as it seems, but it's a lot of ovals and basic shapes. Are you making deliberate choices here, especially with the colour palette you’ve chosen?
I never liked to use colours before, always just got on with pen on paper. I recently began picking up on Photoshop during lockdown and really started experimenting with colour. I just sort of went from there, and then I no longer did line work. It just all became like a shared work shape it developed into its own thing but I like the term oval. The oval world yeah. I don't know if I went from drawing lines and doing line drawings of people to oval drawings of animals. I’m just using all these colours that I've always liked and never even considered using them. I've gone from Black and White to ‘right it's got to represent the mood and the feeling’. I think it's all maybe subconsciously coming out rather than a planned thing. At university and in college they talk about the colour wheel and what colours work and it always fascinated me. How these colours provoke emotion and how they work together, you can't like clashing colours and the experience of the viewer to see non-colours.
Did you see colour as something that was unaffordable? Or are you just at the point where this is my ‘style’ moment?
I guess I didn't know how to access it. At College I remember we had to do this practice where you take a famous painting and reverse the colours using the wheel. I took The Scream (Edvard Munch) and then flipped it. So I had to repaint the Scream at 16 with all these weird colours. I guess now it just wasn't my style. I was kind of strictly a fine liner pen guy with a nice bit of paper and then yeah, like I say, Photoshop came into my life and I started getting really involved with it. It has opened up this whole new world of opportunity because I think every shape is exactly how I like, I get this immediate hit with my art and be like, right, I'm gonna draw a dog. Right? Here's a two minute drawing on the dog or whatever. I'll throw it away if I'm into it, whereas on Photoshop, I can spend hours drawing the same character, you can just raise it and it's nothing or you can just like rejigger it and just morph it into whatever you feel like. I think it's the opens up a lot of opportunities also I also love the collision. I'm kind of only a Photoshop guy, it's fun. It's good to experiment though I don't think it's healthy to pigeonhole yourself. If you're not feeling drawing, maybe take some photos, or if you can't skate maybe pen something. It's all relative and influential of one another, I guess.
As part of this new style you’ve added lyrics to the imagery. What's the desire for that? Does it spring to my mind to support the work or the opposite of ‘I've been listening to this album, this is my new picture’?
I guess I'll session, a band or particular album, or even one song and they'll be one line that sticks in my head. ‘Whoa, this is so weird how it kind of relates to my life right now’ or like something will happen. Sometimes the work adds to my memory then that reminds me about this song and this lyric which then the visuals that come into my mind with it. A good example would be for the design I did for RWTG recently, ‘The Diamond Sea’ by Sonic Youth talks about men not being alone, I really liked the community RWTG, girls were underrepresented in skateboarding now there's this whole host of girls skating and I'm just like ‘they're not alone, they are together’ and that particular song was playing in my head. Mushrooms were around my head at the time, my brain went straight to ‘they're all together and they grew together’ alot like all these girls like forming their own scene and growing together in the UK. I don't know how the human world mimics the natural world and how it all just sort of looks like this whole thing.
I've been thinking about it quite a lot. It's like a balance between nature and music. I listen to music, and then the lyrics will become subconscious thoughts. Just sort of like it comes together. I never tried directly referencing the music, but it definitely has a big influence on this. Matt Rodriguez goes on about how sometimes when you skateboard you feel like you've created a beat and sometimes when you create a beat it's like mimicking skating. I feel like that, not just with skating but with art too. You can kind of like the lyrics that inspires everything which visualises with art.
Speaking of M-Rod, what's the deal with the Ipath Promo? Why do you think everyone likes it?
The promo is timeless…everything about the Ipath promo is timeless, the clothes, the music and it came out in 2005. It could come out tomorrow and still have the same hit. There's nothing like it, it's not a statement, the video was just like pure skating, ‘this is what we do, this is how we do it.’ It really is its own thing at the same time, it's a proper movie, which captures a moment in time.
I watch the Ipath promo all the time. We've got like three copies of it in our house. It represents skateboarding to me. It’s something I think I reflected on a lot quite recently, when I was kind of maybe over-skating, I had to ask myself what is skateboarding for me?
Skateboarding is an amalgamation of Ipath, New York skating and my friends. I want that energy back. Come back, but I don't know if you love it. "Let it go”.
I love it, let it go! You studied at the Leeds College of Art which is now Leeds Arts University how did you find your educational experience did it help you build towards an art career or the opposite?
I think it was in high school, I realised that I was only into art. I hated all of the lessons to a certain degree. I had an interest in Maths and Physics because they were so logical, and the subjects had definitive answers to them. There's no creative freedom in mathematics and physics, I guess maybe I'm ignorant saying that. Nothing else gave me the same feeling as producing art. My art tutor at school was incredible and so gifted, he soon made me realise I wanted to do art. I did end up going to the Leeds College of Art, I had a really good time there. I completed my degree but it kind of bummed me out after a while and I sort of over art. Having to explain your art all the time bummed me out, I didn’t always know why it happened and it felt like a lot of the grading scheme was more on the theory behind what you're doing rather than the actual finished piece. That wasn't what was important to me. It's nice to talk about work, but it shouldn't be how it's graded but because it's all subjective.
Did you feel as if you were proving to someone why your work is more important or even better than someone else's?
Yeah it did, why should I get a worse grade because something came to head differently? I took a bit of a hiatus because I was over it. The work naturally found its way back into my life again, and started doing some designs for skate shops and other stuff. I regret not using the facilities that the college or the Art University has because we did have some incredible facilities and I was maybe a little narrow minded just with my little pen and paper work but the college is dope. I think it helped me realise what I wanted out of art and I didn't care as interesting as it is. I didn't really want to explain it. I just wanted to do it then I just carried on doing it.
You touched on working with ‘skate shops and stuff’, were you deliberately going freelance? What different work within skateboarding or even outside of skateboarding have put out? If so, is there any earlier work that you did we may have missed?
At first answering that I thought the only piece I've done outside of skating was work for Nation of Shopkeepers. I’ve put together merchandise for local legend Serious Sam Barrett, at one point I was doing movie posters for the Hyde Park Picture House too…crazy. Skate Shop wise, I've actually done more than I thought, Andy at Endemic hit me up, yourselves too obviously and freestyle in Newport. That one was dope it came out 10 years later haha. I'm always juiced on doing little bits for independent shops. Most recently I did a piece for Vague Skate Mag which was like a dream come true and the RWTG stuff I mentioned. I'm really happy to be a part of this community. Leeds is a beautiful scene, I realised that at young age I’d never be this a big sponsored skater but I managed to use art to help push my skateboarding in a different way.
I should totally speak about Ben Powell as well. Ben Powell hooked me up big time. He let me do an article and some illustrations every month in Sidewalk and that really helped me out with developing skills and learning how to be an adult about art as well as write. He was running this big skate magazine and allowed me to just do some sketch journalism. I look back on those articles and I'm like ‘man, you're a bit of an asshole’ he gave me totally free reign. That was definitely a big moment in my life having my work published in Sidewalk Magazine.
How does the RWTB product work? Does that come under the banner Dave Tyson artist or is that a separate person?
I have my personal work for sure and RWTB is kind of separate. I don't know if it's my ego or whatever, but I'm aware my own designs are the beauty of bootlegging alongside some cool shapes. The work is personal to me and I won’t wear it haha.
RWTB stuff is my kind of stupid, niche, ‘in jokes’ within our little scene or just be silly spit-balling with the boys. Ideas for that happen best when we sit together and we might be watching some dumb B-movie and oh my god we’ve got to rip that for back of a shirt. I wouldn’t like to see it become a brand. It's too loose with Sam, Jo, Martyn, Adam, myself or literally anyone will do stuff too and it gets called RWTB.
Is there a dream brand or anything outside of skateboarding you would like to on?
I've got a bit of an obsession with blue food. So if anyone wants to collaborate on something like blue food. A skate shoe is for sure on top of my list, if Ipath comes back I want to make a shoe with a tongue stash pocket and then it comes with some blue food in the stash pocket. A Half Cab with an Ipath Cat. I remember when collaborations first started coming out and it was this big thing and now everyone does, it's just not that special anymore, which it’s just kind of sad. The Girl x Antihero tour or the AH x Vans stuff was on a different level. I think collabing with non-skate things is way cooler, someone should make some crisps.
You’re pretty elusive and you either go full ham or nothing at all with art. Does that mean there's zero plan for 2022?
I want to do maths haha, the plan is to do more stuff but just organically. I’m going to let it all come naturally, if I put too much into it I’ll begin to resent it all over again. I have to sort of let myself be in some situation where things just happen organically. I’ll want to make a hoodie then I've done a hoodie so I'm happy with that, next thing I'd love to do is board. I’d do a board graphic for literally anyone.